A spirituality based on community life is one of the factors in the growth of the “co-housing” movement in the U.S. Co-housing, a form of living where residents have their own homes, but also create community through shared meals and other activities, first emerged in Denmark in the 1970s.
New Age magazine (January/February) reports that since the movement took root in the U.S. in the 1980s, co-housing feels “like home for a growing number of people in the United States. There are forty co-housing communities in the country, a dozen under construction, and at least one hundred more being planned.” Unlike communes, co-housing shows a greater diversity of people, ages, and beliefs, but there also seems to be a growing concern with spirituality in these new living arrangements.
The newly built Cambridge Co-housing, the first urban project on the East Coast, was co-founded by Quakers in 1998 and viewed as a spiritual calling. Although a multi-faith community, Cambridge Co-housing opens meetings with silence and governs itself by the Quaker concept of consensus. Other co-housing developments also show a high degree of spiritual interest, including another co-housing project in the works near Washington, D.C. also founded by Quakers, according to Gwen Noyes, an architect and co-founder of Cambridge Co-housing.
Noyes told RW in a phone interview that “most people who have made a commitment to co-housing have thought a lot [about] better ways of living and that often comes out of some kind of philosophy or spirituality.” But she doesn’t think that most co-housing projects in the future will necessarily be organized around common spiritual teachings. “It’s more like a secular religion; it’s about living in a community that’s healthy [from which] many Americans have become alienated . . .”
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